I am trying to diagram this sentence

Across the rolling sward, toward the tree line where the moonlight could not penetrate, a gaggle of ghouls slinked slowly, a singular purpose driving them on their lumbering, protracted route.

and I do not how to diagram the last bit because I do not know what kind of phrase it is or what function that it specifically serves in the sentence.

Here is what I have so far:

enter image description here

There is nothing connecting this clause to the rest of the sentence. What could it possibly be?

Someone said that the last clause is ungrammatical, and that something like

She ran to the forest, her heart broken.

is not correct, although I have seen this kind of sentence structure many times in literature and do not think it is wrong.

What is this kind of thing and how do I diagram it?

  • Whose sentence is that? What is its source? Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 18:38
  • To those too young to be aware of what "diagramming a sentence" means (like me), please refer to this article, which covers the act of forming a sentence diagram in great detail.
    – VTH
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 18:39
  • @WeatherVane It is a sentence made up by a friend that does not have any source. I asked him for a sentence and this was the result.
    – Tommy Tran
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 18:40
  • That sentence is perfectly grammatical. Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


It is a parenthetical phrase (a parenthesis). Both of your examples are of the type called an absolute phrase (because they don't reuse a mentioned item).

  • +1 for "absolute": it is indeed an absolute construction. It could be argued that absolute constructions are parenthetical, but I don't think we normally call them that. So I would instead make absolute construction bold if I were you. You might also want to add that the same applies to the second example sentence. Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 2:43
  • I did mention both examples, and Wikipedia lists absolute phrase under the parenthesis (rhetoric) heading, so I'll need more evidence before changing my answer.
    – AmI
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 2:49
  • @Cerberus: God, how did I miss that? You did indeed mention both examples. // I didn't mean to say that parenthesis was wrong—just that it is less specific. We normally primarily use the more specific term absolute rather than the more general one. That's why it sounds a bit odd to me to make the term bold that we don't often use when naming the phaenomenon. Readers might think that this is a typical/common example of parenthesis, which it's obviously not. But it's ultimately not super important. Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 3:01
  • I see your point. I find 'absolute' by itself to have too many applications, unless I can call it an absolute parenthetical. If absolute construction is the accepted term, then I'll allow anyone to edit.
    – AmI
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 3:17
  • Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for. I was able to diagram the sentence successfully and am very pleased. It turns out you just put absolute phrases above the main sentence.
    – Tommy Tran
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 3:42

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